Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Read in 2017 - 28: The Audubon Park Murder

The Audubon Park Murder (A Sleepy Carter Mystery)
by Brian W. Smith

Rookie Detective Lizzie Silverman is assigned the case of a beautiful college student murdered at Audubon Park (New Orleans) one dark night - no witnesses, but several people would have either motive or occasion, or both.
As if Lizzie had not enough on her plate with this case and her condescending, chauvinistic partner, she has also taken it upon herself to secretly work on the cold case that is her own parents' death of 10 years ago: They died in a car crash that Lizzie herself sees as murder.

But then, help appears from an unexpected source: A homeless man introduces himself to Lizzie as legendary detective Sleepy Carter.
Lizzie knows him from pictures at the police department and from what older members of the police force have told her: Sleepy solved the "unsolvable" cases and even assisted the FBI, until one day he suddenly disappeared. Most believe him dead, the victim of one of the many criminals he helped convict.

There he is, very much alive and kicking, but for reasons he chooses to keep to himself he wants everybody but Lizzie to continue believing him dead and gone. She lets him stay in her garage while he helps her solve the murder at the park.

As this book was labeled 1st in a series, I did not expect each and every question to be answered, and it wasn't. But the principal case is solved, and I did not guess the solution until the end. The story is written in a way that makes you wabt to know what happens next, and keep reading. Some conversations and scenes are a bit drawn out (read: lengthy) when it is not really necessary, although the overall book is fairly short.
There is a lot of New Orleans "feel" about the book; I guess a reader who has been there (I have not) will enjoy that.
Most of the writing is correct in terms of grammar etc., but there is one recurring mistake that became more annoying every time I came across it:
The book says "pass" when it should be "past", nearly every time but once or twice (not that I counted!). For example, "she walked pass him" or "they drove pass the scene" -
sorry, Mr. Smith, that is wrong, even though it may sound just like that when an American says "she walked past him" or "they drove past the scene".

It was the first time I read anything by this author. Brian W. Smith has written around 20 novels and some non-fiction, and I guess someone at some stage (his editor?) told him the difference between pass and past. They must have done, because from his website I learn that "he serves as an Adjunct Professor of Creative Writing, at two colleges in the Dallas, Texas area."

This was - you guessed it - a free ebook I found some years ago at Amazon's kindle shop.

Monday, 21 August 2017

A Favourite Walk Revisited - Part II

To continue my next-to-last post, let me take you along for the second walk I took that day (on the 6th of August).
You've seen my favourite grassy path several times already, and it really was about time I went there again - after all, I had not been here yet this year, and I have no idea if and when I'll return this year.

Last year when I came this way in June, I found construction work going on at the site of a venue for courses and seminars. This year, it looks very far advanced, as you can see. Click here for last year's pictures to compare.

My Grassy Path was as beautiful as ever, and thankfully, much drier than expected. We've had substantial rain in the wake of several thunderstorms recently, and the sun does not reach some of those woodland areas all that well, and so I had been preparing myself for some mud; there wasn't any.

It was just a very enjoyable walk altogether, along "my" path, into the woods and back up to the fields and across them, until I reached my parents' allotment again and it was almost time to go home.

Isn't late summer with its slow but marked transition into early autumn a wonderful time of year?

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Read in 2017 - 27: 166 Tage im All

Back in March, I received some wonderful presents for my birthday (as is the case every year). My family and friends usually seem to know exactly what I want and/or need; sometimes because they have asked, or because I tell them. But often, they simply know me well enough to know what I like.

This book was one of my favourite presents this year. It came from my sister; she knows of my interest in human space travel and that I like Dr. Alexander Gerst.
He has, by the way, featured a few times on my blog already, for instance here.

"166 Tage im All" means "166 days in space", and that was the duration of Alexander Gerst's mission. The book was written by Lars Abromeit together with Dr. Gerst.

You could call this a classic coffeetable book, and this is exactly where I am keeping it: On the coffeetable in my living room.
It does not consist only of photographs, there is also plenty to read. But the book "lives" off its wonderful pictures, most of them taken by Dr. Gerst himself, during his stay aboard the ISS.

For months, I kept the book at hand for those times when I am watching TV and the adverts come up. You are probably all familiar with that situation; often, as soon as an advert break starts, we flick to another channel or leave the room in order to get a drink or snack from the kitchen, or go to the bathroom.
Well, I did (and still do) all that, but it is also how and when I read this book.
It made for slow progress, but that did not matter - it is not like a novel or crime fiction where you need to stick to the story.
On the contrary: That way, I had "more" (i.e. longer) of the book than I would have had if I had been reading it in one go.

Dr. Gerst gives the reader some very interesting insight into life aboard the ISS. But he also tells us how he came to be an astronaut in the first place, the intense time of preparation for his mission, and a little bit of what life was/is like for him afterwards.
Next year, he will return to the space station. I am going to be one of the millions of people who will follow his continuing real-life "story" with interest.

Friday, 18 August 2017

A Favourite Walk Revisited - Part I

Hard to believe, but true: All year, I had not been yet once to my parents' allotment! But on the 6th of August, I arranged to join them there in time for coffee and cake in the early afternoon.
Many times, I have done this with my Mum, but never on my own: Take the train from Ludwigsburg to Marbach and then walk for approximately an hour across a hill and up another, between vineyards, orchards and fields, to reach the allotment.

It was a pleasant walk and the weather warmer than expected. I took many pictures along the way. If you feel like it, you can compare this month's views with those from previous years, for instance on here.

Looking back towards where I've come from:

And now forward:
Nearly at the small town from where it is only about another 20 minutes uphill to the allotment:

Not as steep as this, though - these are just some of the vineyards I passed along the way:
 Nearly there now!

No pictures of the allotment itself this time, but after coffee and cake (which was delicious, as always when my Mum bakes) I went for another walk. I'll show you those pictures in one of my next posts.